Olive Oil: Its Nutritional Value And Health Benefits

Olive oil is a liquid fat consumed by people for thousands of years. It is a key element in Mediterranean and European cuisine. Olive Oil does not contain carbohydrates or protein. Its calories come from fat, primarily good monounsaturated fat, making it a healthy addition to your diet.

Furthermore, Olive oil can vary in terms of color and flavor. Whether it is virgin, extra-virgin, or pure depends on how acidic it is and how much it has been processed. Unlike other oils extracted from a nut, seed or grain, olive oil is extracted from the fruit.

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Olive Oil Nutrition Value 

The USDA provides the following nutritional information about olive oil.

  • Calories: 119
  • Fat: 14g
  • Sodium: 0.3mg
  • Vitamin E: 1.9mg
  • Vitamin K: 8.1mcg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Carbs: None

Fats

One full tablespoon of olive oil has 9.86 grams of monounsaturated fat, 1.42 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.86 grams of saturated fat. Most of the fat present in olive oil is good; however, it’s still beneficial to control your intake.

Protein

Olive oil doesn’t contain any protein, carbohydrates, fiber, or sugar. 

Vitamins and Minerals

There are almost 1.9 milligrams of vitamin E in one tablespoon of olive oil. Vitamin E keeps our cells healthy by protecting them from free radicals. They also aid in boosting immunity and preventing blood from clotting. The exact amount of olive oil also contains 8.1 mcg of vitamin K. Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and bone mineralization.

Consuming olive oil also provides small amounts of potassium, approximately 0.1 milligrams per tablespoon. Potassium promotes healthy functioning of the kidneys and heart. It plays an essential role in muscle contraction.

Olive Oil: Its Nutritional Value And Health Benefits

Calories

One tablespoon of this oil includes 119 calories, making it a calorically dense oil. If you reduce the amount of olive oil to one teaspoon, the calories decrease by approximately two-thirds, or approx. 40 calories per serving.

Summary

Olive oil is high in fat, but this fat promotes better health. It also provides the body with a few essential nutrients, such as vitamin E, vitamin K, and potassium.

Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Adding olive oil to your diet provides multiple health benefits:

Olive Oil Boosts Immunity

Olive oil is enriched with vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in enhancing immunity and disease prevention. Some studies suggest that consuming olive oil may help in treating autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Olive Oil Improves Cardiovascular Health

Olive oil contains polyphenols that may help protect the heart. This is because of the fact that polyphenols can stop blood platelets from clotting together, which is a cause of heart attacks. Additionally, Vitamin K in olive oil also assists in blood clotting.

The FDA supports eating at least 1.5 tablespoons (20 grams) of olive oil each day to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Olive Oil Supports Healthy Cholesterol Levels

Olive oil contains high amounts of “good” monounsaturated fat, which increases good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers bad cholesterol (LDL). The body requires some cholesterol for cellular and hormonal health, but high cholesterol levels can elevate the risk of heart stroke.

Olive Oil Helps Reducing Inflammation

A high c-reactive protein or CRP level is a sign of inflammation in the body. Some studies show that the addition of extra virgin olive oil to the diet can have anti-inflammatory effects by reducing CRP. Anti-inflammatory compounds present in olive oil, such as oleocanthal, are present in high amounts in virgin and extra-virgin olive oil.

Olive Oil Have Anti-Cancer Properties

The antioxidants in olive oil can assist in reducing oxidative damage due to free radicals, which is the leading cause of cancer. Many researchers believe that people in Mediterranean countries have a lower risk of some cancers due to the consumption of olive oil. However, more research is required to determine whether olive oil reduces your risk of cancer.

Adverse Effects of Olive Oil

Olive oil is generally considered safe. However, consuming too much quantity can have negative effects on the body. So, moderation is needed to enjoy the benefits of olive oil’s health risks. If you have abnormally dry skin or atopic dermatitis (red and itchy skin), applying olive oil topically may make these conditions worse.

Varieties of Olive Oil

Olive oil varies in accordance with color and flavor depending on the ripeness of the fruit, climate, type of soil, etc. Color mainly depends on the refining process. High-quality olive oil will be thicker (not too thick) than refined products.

Virgin olive oil is 100% concentrated olive oil, meaning it is not heated or chemically processed. Instead, it is extracted purely either by pressing or spinning the olives. The “extra virgin” has the most nutritional value, lower acidity, very low rancidity, and the strongest flavor.

Pure olive oil is processed after pressing using heat and chemicals. It is slightly lighter in flavor and less costly. But it has a more neutral flavor and a higher smoke point.

Storage and Food Safety

The fats in olive oil make it prone to going rancid. Therefore, it is necessary to protect it from light and heat. To keep olive oil in the best condition: 

  • Buy olive oil in dark glass bottles. Dark colored glass blocks the damaging light rays that can cause rancidity.
  • Avoid buying bottles that are dusty or have been on the shelves for months. Instead, try to get the fresh oil you can.
  • Always store oil in a dark, cool place until ready to use. When stored in the refrigerator, don’t be tense if the oil appears cloudy and thick. It will become a liquid once it turns to room temperature.
  • If stored correctly, olive oil will maintain its nutritional properties and flavor for up to two years. Once opened, olive oil should be replaced every few months.

How to Prepare Meals Using Olive Oil

Use extra-virgin olive oil to cook vegetables or to saute meat, fish, and poultry. You can also pour some oil into soups, stews, and bean recipes. Use it to make your healthier salad dressing. When cooking at higher temperatures, such as roasting or frying, use extra virgin olive oil. Use olive oil moderately in cooking, particularly if you’re watching your calorie intake.

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